Time To Defend A Championship

Then there’s Lamar Odom and the rest of the “Bench Mob.” It seemed like an eternity ago when this unheralded group was extolled for their exemplary play. A couple of years ago when they came into games, they were not only expected to maintain the lead that the starters spotted them, but they were often expected to add to it. I once joked that if the Lakers bench formed their own team, they could win 40 games. I was delusional then. Now I’m just disillusioned. In Game 1 of the Finals, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown had drives in the second quarter where each player penetrated into the rifts of the Boston D, blowing by the Celtics untouched for easy scores. Farmar and Brown must’ve fallen through the cracks because they have been nonexistent ever since.

June 13, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02200747 Boston Celtics center Rasheed Wallace (L) reaches to block the shot of Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (R) in the second quarter of the NBA Finals Game Five at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 13 June 2010. The best of seven series is tied at two apiece.

While it’s not fair to condemn Luke Walton or Sasha Vujacic for the way they’ve played, it makes it that much more frustrating when players on the opposing bench have made significant contributions in the Finals. From Tony Allen’s magnificent defense, to Nate Robinson’s sheer determination, to Rasheed Wallace’s back-breaking 3-pointers, it’s been a tough pill to swallow watching Boston’s bench come up with timely plays. I didn’t even mention the biggest factor, Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Celtic fans have been drooling over his play almost as much as he has. While Phil Jackson has been keeping his starters on the floor for the majority of games, Doc Rivers has had no qualms about keeping his bench players out on the court during crucial moments. While Lamar Odom is always vital to Lakers success, in Game 5, when Rondo leaped over Odom for the tip-in score, it really summed up L.O.’s play in this series: Lackluster. But luckily, Odom and the rest of the bench have two games in the friendly atmosphere of Staples Center to redeem themselves. And there will be absolutely no excuse for not being up to the task in front of the home crowd.

Next: What’s at Stake for Kobe and Phil…

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